From today, 9/11/2016; different flag, different house


Salt Lake Tribune I kept from 9/12/2001 

USA Today kept from 9/12/2001

Fifteen years ago to the day, my ex and I were in Reno.  We’d driven the 8 hours with our then-2 year and 10 month old daughters, Julia and Livy, to combine James’ business trip with a visit with my mom, who’d driven from California to meet us.  Courtesy of my sleepless daughters, we were awake early that morning, TV on, and when the South Tower started crumbling it looked—at first--like a puff of dust, and I can remember thinking the very same thing that Katie Couric(?) was saying:  “What is that?”

“What is that?”

And fifteen years now, we know what it was and know what it is, and America became humbled by a hate so palpable we celebrate the anniversary of collective trauma together because none can bear this burden alone.

That day in Reno, my daughters played at a park, that had well-tended equipment placed in a garden setting with those little animals on springs that go back and forth and that spinny thing where you sit on a platform and hold onto bars as you're spun into sickness, and while my daughters smiled and laughed, mom and I straddled two worlds, which almost seemed too incompatible to coexist, and when I returned home, I held my baby in the calm of night, sobbing as I rocked her in grief for the world she had already unknowingly relinquished.

But many good things come from tragedy.  For it's in the removal of false divisions that strength can be found and in contrast that we can see beautiful things more clearly.

James and I divorced in 2007 amid an epic shitstorm in which he broke hearts as if we were Sims, but when his brother Steve was deployed to Iraq that same year, our American flag got placed outside 1531 Garfield Avenue and remained there for the duration of his deployment (a year plus), becoming weathered and tattered and faded, a hole developing on the bottom, front corner as even the slightest wind had made it catch on the thorny bushes that edged our lawn.

When Steve returned home, the girls and I took the flag down, folded the frayed fabric as best we could, and gave it to James to give to his brother.  James was a dick, but I sure as fuck wasn't going to return fire.   For the hate of 9/11/01 showed us how not to be and how not to live, but people died that day holding onto one another and heroes ran up stairs to save the lives of people they knew nothing about, and if they can be that, then so can we.

If we don't see anything beautiful, we must make something beautiful.  If we don't see a helper, we must be the helper.  If we don't see the love, we must be the love.

If we make judgment against another, we must try harder.

For we can't forget what happened that day wasn't just about hate; it was about sacrifice and love and overcoming your own feelings in order to help a perfect stranger.


Views: 230

Comment by alsoknownas on September 11, 2016 at 7:40am

It only takes one reading of this to get to the heart of it; " people died that day holding onto one another and heroes ran up stairs to save the lives of people they knew nothing about, and if they can be that, then so can we."

It's the small acts of mercy that define us in times of turmoil and need. Running towards those who are in need is innate in some and counter intuitive to others.

I think this captures in a poetic form, the absolute differences in the world in perspectives that persons hold. I do not know if it can be taught to be selfless, but it sure can be applauded.

"If we don't see the love, we must be the love...we must try harder."

Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on September 11, 2016 at 8:21am
Thank you, aka. Very much.

Every year, I'm surprised at how emotional I get when I bring out my flag and those newspapers, and just this year I realized how thankful I am that it's a trauma that none of us have to endure alone.
Comment by Rosigami on September 11, 2016 at 8:55am

I think it will take a generation or more before the events of 9/11 become part of the history of this time instead of the open wound it remains for so many. 

I am also thinking about how such events serve to further divisiveness in those who are already so inclined. Those for whom, as you said, find it counter to their makeup to run toward those in need.

Your thoughtful and poetic writing here struck a chord with me. You've reminded me that these events are also about the good that humans do for each other in times of great need. It is heartening. At the level of interpersonal relationships, taking the high road is always right, not always reciprocated, and sometimes appreciated. Doesn't change what the right thing is. We do the best we can. 

Comment by koshersalaami on September 11, 2016 at 9:28am

Seriously good post

Great observations

Nothing really to add

Comment by Zanelle on September 11, 2016 at 9:43am

Thank you for trying to find the good in all the bad.  Helping each other is best.  So much hate in the world!!!  Where is the peace?

Comment by alsoknownas on September 11, 2016 at 1:21pm


I'm not surprised by your emotionality around this.

I fear the date could become something akin to Pearl Harbor, known by those who were not living at the time, but reduced to an answer in search of a question on Jeopardy. "What happened on Sept 11th 2001 Alex?"

I didn't have babies to cradle in my arms on that day, then watch them grow up in the spectre of the media blast since over terrorism, constant war and shameless blame portrayed by self promoting politicians.

That takes a toll, that can only be fought with the awareness of our better selves, not fear of the great unknown.

Such work should not be left to the historians who write from the position of the "winners", but to the poets and dreamers, among whom you should count yourself.

Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on September 12, 2016 at 5:32am
Thank you for reading and commenting, Rosi. I believe that we will carry this trauma with us for a very long time, and even though such a tragedy is something that we would never hope on ourselves, coming together as a nation to honor our shared grief gives us all a reason and motivation for setting aside our individual differences including our political beliefs, and perhaps there is something positive in that at least.
Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on September 12, 2016 at 5:36am
Thank you for reading and commenting, ks. Contrarily, I think your kind words WERE something important to add. Or at least I appreciate it and maybe others do too. (Kindness: gotta sprinkle that "stuff" everywhere).
Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on September 12, 2016 at 5:55am
Morning, Zanelle. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Someone who is a very gentle, kind soul and longtime person of faith asked me on my Facebook last night how we could help the young men who are part of/joining ISIS feel love rather than hate. She is torn and can't understand how there could be hope in the face of people willing to behead and torture other humans simply to advance their understanding of God.

And, of course, I don't have the answer, but I do believe that hate goes against not only the advancement of most causes but also goes against the body's own physical capabilities, as exhibited by research showing what happens with people who are chronically angry. The embodiment of hate and the actions reflecting that hate literally kill the human body. And to me that is an answer right there, for it speaks to the reality that even the broader universe is pushing against hate with all in its power.

Have a good day, Zanelle.
Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on September 12, 2016 at 6:31am
Good morning, aka. Thank you for coming back and commenting again.

That was a great comment, for it got me thinking about the natural ability of humans to push forward after events that were once believed to be of insurmountable impact. I do remember my mother talking about the Japanese as if they were some great evil species, and that our country was able to defuse that kind of thinking and become allies with the Japanese, speaks to the possibility of it also happening with Muslims.

For some reason it seems as if there are those in our world who view tragedies as some kind of personal insult but when you look at history and the specific countries and and human behaviors across that history, tragedy is a pretty normal thing. What isn't normal (or, rather, "helpful"), to my thinking, is how human beings tend to react after those tragedies. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are two horrible events, neither of which is made right by falling into the same type of thinking which blankets entire races and countries with harmful stereotypes. There are no easy answers to life's complexities but people like "easy" so tend to default into hating wide swaths of people just to save themselves a little emotional legwork.

Some people are prone to think the worst so maybe my mother still feels that way about the Japanese and maybe some will always feel that way about Muslims but as Rosi said, sometimes doing the right thing is right regardless of whether it makes sense to others or you receive glowing praise for it. I think as long as it advances some betterment of ourselves and our broader society over time then standing true to the high road is worth it.


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